Once upon a time, there was a young girl who loved stories. She had loved them ever since she was very small, a toddler or younger. As many children so young do, she had imaginary friends. She would play with them all day, making up stories about them and what they did, even though she did not realize that is what she was doing at the time.
She grew and went to school. In first grade, when she was about seven, she gave up her imaginary friends. The teasing at school wasn’t worth it. She also believed she had talent in drawing. The girl still made up stories from time to time, even wrote them down, but those kind of stories were rare. Yet, even though she never considered them so, she made up stories without realizing it as she played games of make-believe with her sister.
First, second, and third grade brought a Young Writers and Illustrators conference. The girl attended all three years. She listened to the authors speak and she knew what she wanted to be when she grew up. The second grade girl came home and told her mother that she wanted to be an author.
But over the next few years, the girl forgot her desire to write. She continued to draw as a hobby, but it was truly just doodling. The girl devoured books. She read any book she could get her hands on. By the time she was thirteen and in about eighth grade, she discovered the fantasy genre. She loved The Lord of the Rings.
But we are getting too far ahead. When she was thirteen, a magazine she read was having a story contest. Write a sequel to a fairy tale. Excited at the prospect of being published, the girl set to work with a pencil and loose wide-ruled paper to write a sequel to Alice in Wonderland. She typed it up and sent it away. Nothing came of it, but that was the relighting of her desire.
Over the next months, the girl wrote another story about a candy store. Then, upon receiving two notebooks for her fourteenth birthday, she wrote a small skit. And then a nineteen-page historical fiction story. And then a series about a homeschooling family. And then a fantasy series. And then she wrote a very large fantasy series which consumed the next two or three years of her writing. Thousands of handwritten pages filling many, many notebooks. Publication didn’t matter. It was a nice thought, but it mostly stayed a dream hidden in the back of her mind. Her joy was the writing.
After this fantasy series ceased, the girl tried another story. A blatant rip-off of LOTR, at least with the characters and a few of the plot elements. Then, one about four children who find out that two respected elders in their village are going to try to take over the world. That story, to this day, still has a place in the girl’s heart. It was in this story that she met a talking black cat named Tempest. Within the next few years, he jumped out of her story and to her side. She had an imaginary friend once more.
The girl was no longer a child. She was now a young lady. When she was nineteen, she received her first laptop. She finished typing the story she had been typing up onto her mother’s computer. This was going to be her first real attempt to get published, in her mind. A hundred plots or so come and gone and this was going to be the first one she ever edited.
But over time, she realized that the story had problems. Bigger problems than she could fix by changing words. The story would need to be rethought and rewritten. She had rewritten before, but this wasn’t something she wanted to rewrite. She became enamored with a new story. A type of story she had never tried before. Still fantasy, but a modern type and set on earth, instead of set in a world of her own creation. Through her journeys on the internet, she had learned about NaNoWriMo. On November 1, 2011, a story called The Curse Fulfilled was born. With the help of National Novel Writing Month, the first draft was complete by April of 2012.
Almost immediately after TCF was finished, the young author dove into the story that was next in the series. There would be five books in this series. And it was the best thing she had ever written. Every book had been like that, better than the last.
In between writing Book 2 and whatever she fancied at the time (three short stories immerged during the next months), the girl played around with editing TCF. But it was all small edits, changing a word or sentence here and there. After all, her mother and grandmother had loved the story. She loved the story. What could be wrong with it?
It was July of 2013, just over a year ago. The girl had signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo, writing a story that she had started just before Camp NaNo, making her a rebel, but she didn’t care. In her year in browsing the internet and finding blogs of fellow writers, she had made a few online friends. Some were closer than others. One of these asked the girl if she was interested in a word war.
The girl had discovered word wars during her first NaNoWriMo and loved them. She agreed and word wars were had. So that other people could join them, the friend opened a chatroom. Word wars happened around the clock every day during the rest of that month. The girl exceeded her goal of 30k.
But something more important than writing 30k happened during those few weeks. She typed up a small section of what she had been writing and shared it with the chatroom. It was only a few paragraphs. But it was critiqued– kindly but it hurt. The rose-colored glass the girl had been looking through her entire writing life had been shattered.
There was more to writing than word choice and plot. The main thing that had been called out on those few paragraphs was tension. This was something she understood once explained. And she realized that she had never upped the tension ever in any one of her stories. The girl slowly began to learn that even though she had been writing for years and years, she barely knew anything technical about the craft.
Over the next month, the girl and the friend got to really know each other. In August, they swapped manuscripts, the girl absolutely terrified as she gave the friend TCF. The critique was again kind, but it showed her just how much work she had to do.
Jump ahead to May 31, 2014. Robyn Hoode’s revisions of TCF finally done, she sends the story once again to her friend and two other friends who have agreed to beta-read it. She also sends query letters to two agents.
During the month of June, she sees a note she had made when a plot bunny had appeared. She ponders it. What if there was a world plagued by sandstorms and people who could control the sand?
And she lives happily ever after, writing and publishing many stories and becoming a best-selling author. (Well, I can hope, can’t I?)